Sesshin is Precious
by Mikayo Nantista

I have an experience that made me feel, "Sesshin training is precious."
I was connected to Shinnyo-en over 20 years ago through a problem which I couldn't even share with my own family.
I was living in Japan at that time.
I visited the temple a day after I heard about Shinnyo-en.
There was no service on that day, however.
The temple I visited had just been dedicated 3 months before, and it was the only Shinnyo-en sanctuary in the Kyushu region.
(Now, there is a Shinnyo-en sanctuary in each prefecture in Kyushu.)
There wasn't any service that day, but from the moment I saw the Great Nirvana Buddha image sculpted by Shinnyo Kyoshu-sama, I felt happy all the way home and for the next few days.
I told my family, relatives and friends that "I became really happy after I went to the place called Shinnyo-en."
(I didn't know what I was doing then was called Otasuke.)
Some of them got connected to Shinnyo-en.
Right around the time when I was inviting one of my aunts to go, saying, "Aunty, why don't you go at least once?"
I received the following spiritual words in my fourth Sesshin:
"Have you done Otasuke?
Someone who’s shaking his/her head is indicated, in trying not to hear what you have to say.
This person’s hands are in pain.
Maybe from arthritis?
His/her back is hurting, too.
How about the blood pressure?
Try speaking to this person about the Teaching 30 times.
If he/she still doesn’t want to do it, then, nothing can be done.
This person may not have any big trouble or concerns right now.
But later on, he/she may face some irreversible, big difficulty.
Is this person pursing the Shinnyo Teaching yet?
Please encourage him/her to do so to have the spiritual tie with the Buddha.
Please read the Path of Oneness, the Nirvana and Joyous World often and do Otasuke on this person."
After that Sesshin, I frequently visited this aunt with my sister who used to go to Shinnyo-en with me.
After inviting her about 10 times to Shinnyo-en, my aunt said, "If you encourage me so much, I'll give it a try," and she became a member.
Because I felt so happy when I first visited the temple, I assumed that she would feel the same.
I asked her, "Aunty, do you feel happy?"
But she was dissatisfied because of the large crowd of followers and because I rushed her from this place to the next.
Through this experience, I learned how difficult Otasuke is due to individual differences.
Afterwards, her level of faith was such that she would only request Osegaki and read the Nirvana issues at home.
She was often visited at home by so-called, "professional spiritual mediums/faith healers"
Even though she was connected to Shinnyo-en, she would often request special prayers from these people.
When she was just about ready to start receiving Sesshin training, she left Shinnyo-en.
I was scheduled to move to America.
My mother started to return to the temple around that time.
A few years later, the same aunt was guided back to Shinnyo-en by my mother.
She attended home meetings, and her daughter became a member as well.
Both of them started to receive Sesshin and engage in Three Practices.
Another few years later, my aunt received Daijo spiritual level in her 70's.
Her daughter was accepted to study in Chiryugakuin missionary school.
Her husband (my uncle) fell ill around that time and he required the nursing care at home afterward.
Later he passed on.
Soon after that, her daughter that she was depended upon became ill with cancer.
At her last moment, her doctor asked the family, "Are you practicing any faith?
Normally, the end is not as peaceful as her case."
I woke up one night when I had a dream about her daughter, telling me, “Thank you, Mika-chan.”
Because I knew of her hospitalization, I asked my mother about her.
Then, I found out that she passed away 1 week ago.
I saw her being well in my dreams later also. Last March, I visited my aunt and had a chance to talk with her about various things.
She told me with a smile, “I never imagined that I’d send off my husband and even my daughter before me.
I was glad to have Shinnyo-en’s faith. I know where my daughter is now. That fact makes me grateful.”
“I contemplate sometimes that I could have been a spiritual medium by now if I had continued endeavoring in the Teaching ever since you had invited me to go with you.
Because I’m elderly, I was endeavoring with my daughter with the wish that she would become a spiritual medium.
But apparently I miscalculated.
When my daughter was in the hospital, we promised that we’d go to Ogen’in together when she recovered.
I can’t go all the way to Tokyo by myself.
But I wish to go there at least once.” She’s 83 year’s old this year and her back is bent.
It is hard for her now to return to Kyushu main temple.
But at the end of this month, she is arranging to go to Ogen’in with her walking cane, together with my mother and her teaching friends.
During this year's Winter Training, she did the reading gohoshi of Path of Oneness.
She practiced reading at home, in order not to make mistakes when many people are reading along.
Out of the whole section she was appointed to read, she divided it into smaller sections to practice each day.
But every time she started to practice, she was interrupted by the phone calls or a visitor at the door.
Then, she would start over from the beginning.
She had to repeat that many times, but because of that, she was grateful to able to read it perfectly during the Winter Training.
I told her, "Thank you, aunty. I'm not sure whether or not I'll be able to live as long as you have and keep the feeling of appreciation as you do. I'm so glad to have come to see you."
She laughed and said, "Even I can still be of some use?"
She is taking up the role of a mother for her grandchild in place of her daughter and doing her best to pass on the Teaching to her grandchild.
I’ll do my best, too. Thank you very much.